When the Baltimore Orioles traded shortstop Alex Gonzalez to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi, it was seen as nothing more than a depth signing, which it still is. However, Dan Duquette and the Orioles’ front office got away with robbery in this deal.
Gonzalez was very impressive in Spring Training, hitting .429/.467/.679 in 28 at-bats, but the 37-year-old is well past his prime and hasn’t posted decent numbers since 2011; even then, the numbers weren’t that impressive. You have to go all the way back to 2007 to truly find a good statistical season from Gonzalez. While he hit well this spring, there’s no reason to believe he would be able to replicate his success during the regular season.
Lomdardozzi, on the other hand, hasn’t hit the cover off the ball this spring, batting a mere .231/.233/.231. However, he’s only 25 years old and is a lot more versatile than Gonzalez. Lombardozzi is a plus-defender with good speed who handles the bat well.
“Steve’s a guy whose best position probably is second. He can play third. He can play left and he can play some shortstop,” Buck Showalter told CSN Baltimore.
Not to mention the fact that Lombardozzi has a team-first attitude and understands his role with the club. What more could you want from a utility guy?
“I think I’m not going to be somebody that’s going to wow you in one night. I do the little things to help the team win over the course of a week, two weeks, you’ll see how valuable I am to a team, whether it’s getting a guy over, stealing a base, making a great defensive play. I’m just here to help this team win however I can,” Lombardozzi explained to CSN Baltimore.
Lombardozzi, who graduated from Atholton High School in Columbia, MD, is already a fan favorite and respected around the Mid-Atlantic from his three seasons with the Washington Nationals, where he hit .264/.297/.342 with five home runs and nine stolen bases in 257 games.
Gonzalez could have given J.J. Hardy some rest throughout the regular season, but Lombardozzi can do that, and plenty more.